Drown your coffee instead…in donuts

My 40th birthday has come and gone. I’ve had time to reflect on the fact that I killed a book in its early stages and thankfully I have no regrets. Sometimes the hard decision is the best one. For me looking at my blog objectively I had the opportunity to assess how it would serve as a book on a store shelf compared to the readers I reach simply by blogging and frankly, for this blog I am grateful for the readers that take the time to follow the posts on this blog.

I have to (okay choose to) take a moment to reflect on what turning forty has done for me as a writer: it has reinforced that at my age I am more worried about quality and less worried about quantity so if you notice periods of less posts or see periods of more posts that is in part the reason why. This blog has become less of an instructional pursuit and more of a record of my personal progress as a writer, scriptwriter and human being.

I am taking a children’s book writing course and I have offered up my first kids book to the gods of the underworld (I mean my classmates and esteemed writing instructor) to rip apart during our next class so I can get real world feedback on what did and didn’t work about my first attempt at children’s writing. My instructor is someone I would love to see sitting over coffee with Stephen King who first said, “Kill your darlings” and my instructor who in our first class called out, “You have to be willing to drown your children”. (children as a metaphor for writing). I will refrain from mentioning their name for fear that someone may misinterpret the translation of their statement in which the reference was to be willing to edit your manuscript with an objective eye and be willing to make sacrifices to get the material that belongs there, not the material you want to see there by cutting out what is inessential.

This same instructor had several other tidbits of deep, well thought out quotes which spilled out of his mouth much like he was reading a passage from one of Munro’s books. Rich and alive with thought.

I finished another short script recently and at present I’m deciding which script out of my collection I want to shoot for Digi60. Film pre-production, production and post-production is a very time consuming activity and as any filmmaker would tell you there are sacrifices to be made if you want to produce something of quality. This would be my second short.

Time for coffee.

Ciao for now.

 

 

Advertisements

I (May) Have A Problem

bookproblemcolourediteduseI’m reorganizing my writer’s dungeon (I mean office) to suit a makeshift home photography studio temporarily and I had to move the bookcases around. I have at least two and a half more tall bookcases plus some books in line for room on the shelf. In consideration of this awareness I will be adding book reviews more regularly to this blog. I can’t however promise I won’t keep buying new books (and old ones). It’s both a passion and a hobby of mine.

writersmug

In the meantime time to get back to writing book #3 #MustardSeeds #siblingrivalry #twosisters #oneplaceinthespotlight #thestakesarehigh #childcaughtinthecrossfire #WIP

Virtual World Tour

 

So I am a writer of my word. I practised what I preached. I Dared to Suck Dare to Suck and I published my second book, a compilation of my favorite posts from Not My Straitjacket which I only recently realized I hadn’t celebrated the two year anniversary since its creation. If you have read this blog in whole or in part I invite you to rate my book on Amazon.com The official launch date for this book is September 13th, 2017.

Thank you for reading! Time to celebrate and let the virtual world tour begin.

Remember it is said: Sharing is caring.

Success as a Journey

“Success is a journey, not a destination.” Arthur Ashe.

I was writing a blog on goal setting, perseverance and success when in the middle of that flow of words pouring out onto the keyboard the computer crashed, and my file had not yet been saved. Hazards of writing at 4 in the morning, not awake enough to think of important things like backing up files and important things like getting more sleep when the muse has so obviously struck.

I was reminiscing that the last two years I have had my share of falling on my face with attempted success in children’s writers’ market. My first children’s book Loved Like Me is back online as of today and available for purchase. (I pulled it one day frustrated from my lack of sales which in retrospect I realise partly contributes to the fact that I really need to put more time in marketing the book.) I am also writing my second children’s book this fall through independent studies with a local art school which will soon learn that my ability to even draw a pretty stick figure is about a four out of a ten.

(Ctrl S) I really can’t believe it crashed…moving on…

I recently completed the first rewrite of my first feature script Witness. I have several eyes on it now giving me critical feedback as to how to improve important details like plot development, pace, creating more convincing conflict and such. I am hoping to start sending it out to potential producers by January when all the chaos from the impending holidays will have passed.

In my spare time, I have been carving out a makeshift photography studio in my home with a very basic budget, with a lot of do-it-yourself stuff and such. I have found, especially in the past year when I took my photography to a professional level and started freelancing as a photojournalist that the more I took photos, the more visual of a writer I became.

There is a connection between framing a photo and seeing what fits in the picture and what doesn’t, what makes a story and what doesn’t, how the pieces fit together to tell a compelling story, or don’t. I went from being someone who always struggled with being a visual writer as I wrote to being able to “see” what the picture in front of me looked like and what I needed to make that image, that story work. Now, this may not work for everyone, but it helped me so I throw it out there as a suggestion of things to try if you feel the ink well is drying up and you just can’t see the story you want to tell. Imagine it as a series of pictures telling a story from beginning to end.

Not a fan of photography? Tell your story in stick people, I believe you’d get a higher score than I gave myself and, you’d have a story. And now, coffee.

How To Pass Time Waiting For a Publisher’s Response

 

Write. Check email. Play with kids. Clean house. Feed kids and make sure they get ready for the day ahead. Check email. Google “standard publishing contracts, tiered rejection letters and what they mean, how to get a literary agent and reading the success stories of those whom have already, ‘been there, done that, read the book and wrote the sequel.’ Read more of the book Writing the Character Centered Screenplay by Andrew Horton. Watch more TVO with the kids. Play the drums with my daughter and guitar with my son. (Please note I do not know how to play a musical instrument so my definition of play is not dependent on talent.) Do anything but check the email for the rest of the day if I can help it. I easily could have chewed to the cuticles of my nails by now with all the anticipation I’m feeling (but I haven’t and likely won’t) while waiting for the results: I’m waiting to know whether or not a certain publisher is going to accept or pass on my manuscript Nuka.

It started a few days ago when I received a reply to a follow-up email from the publisher who is aware I have been waiting a few months for a verdict on my manuscript. I can’t say I expected so much as a boo from the editor before he makes his decision as editors are notorious for their crazy and demanding work schedules but the response he took the time to provide to my follow-up email was more than appreciated. I was told I’ll know this week whether or not they are interested in publishing my work.

I am hoping to being offered a publishing contract but I am also realistic, it could go either way and I have to prepare for that. I’ve received form letters in the past on projects that never moved on to see the light of day while other work has gone on to be published or optioned so I can anticipate how I might react if the answer is not what I’m hoping but it doesn’t make the wait any easier.

Past rejection letters have pushed me to write more and work harder on developing my prose and scripts. I’ve contemplated writing the crappiest rejection letter I could possibly receive to alleviate the stress I might feel if the answer is not in my favor but honestly, that’s been done and these writers are either still twiddling their fingers at their desk or they’re published or optioned and writing more. (It still for some reason sounds like a good idea to at least pass some time).

And then I remind myself that even famous authors have had their share of rejection letters and that it would not be an anomaly if it happened to me. http://mentalfloss.com/article/26662/try-try-again-rejection-letters-received-bestselling-authors

I’ve been thinking of ways to pass the time this week and so far they include generating story ideas, photography fun at Mud Lake, getting my nails done, going to the beach, taking the family to the museum, eating chocolate sundaes at Dairy Queen, work on trashing a wedding dress I have for a potential short I might shoot for Digi60 which is coming up soon see http://www.digi60.org

Honestly I don’t know why this response waiting period feels different than the others. It’s my first novella but not my first published book. It only carries with it the weight of my blood, sweat, and tears I put into it metaphorically bleeding to death at the keyboard, searching for the right word, eliminating sentences that end with adverbs, keeping the story in the present tense, creating roadblocks for the protagonist along the way, building suspense, all that great textbook stuff writers’ ought to include to make a compelling story. But I remind myself, my book is not me, I am not my book. The book and I are not one and therefore any decision that is arrived at is completely impersonal and in no way a reflection of who I am or my worth as a writer. It will either complement the books that the publisher is looking for or delivers, or it won’t.

I would just be ecstatic to receive a positive response but I am open to all the possibilities that lay before me with the answer just out of my grasp at this time.

So I have made the decision that whatever the result I will dedicate the next few weeks devoted to finishing rewriting that feature length script I’ve been working on. I will research self-marketing a little more, look into getting Loved Like Me my children’s book on adoption formatted for circulation again and perhaps I will research literary agents that work with traditional publishers and continue work on a novel I have more than 100 pages written on so far.

For good measure I will drink a plethora of coffee, write more blogs and update my social media posts with everything hopefully unrelated to this self-torture of counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds, another milestone of my life as a writer will either be made or missed. My children will continue to keep me busy playing with Play-Dough, singing those wonderful songs from Mary Poppins, (because we all know what a spoonful of sugar does) and how that’s helpful if coffee is your drug of choice {at least if you’ve seen the film this may resonate with you}, and right now a word like supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is exactly what I need to explain what I’m feeling inside.

Whatever the results I do not know when or if I will have the resolve to publish them.

Will the manuscript be accepted or rejected? Contract or form letter? Tiered rejection letter? Some other response? Will I need an agent? Would I want an agent? The possibilities are numerous. I don’t know. But I do know that my current project won’t get written by itself. I tell myself I’ve got this. What writing projects are you working on these days? What has your experience with publishers been like? How did you react when you received rejection or acceptance letters? I’d love to know.

Back to work.

 

Writing beyond the Grave

 

When waking up at 3 a.m. and having the memories of a very ancient obituary writing assignment on my mind for absolutely no reason at all, I decided to get up and write this blog so as to contemplate how death and dying is represented in different writing forms and the difference in the way it is conveyed in social media and literature.

Obituary writing is not all it’s cut out to be. When I was first assigned to write the obituary of a living person as a learning assignment while studying journalism I think I would have sooner chewed my arm off. I did not want to decide someone’s method of dying when they were still on the planet breathing the God given air we have. I was not worthy or meant for such a fate. By luck, or misfortune, the person to whom I had been assigned learned of the true nature of my assignment by chance.

It turned out that the person to whom I had been assigned was particularly superstitious and by the next day I was forbidden from completing the assignment and given an alternate one in its place. But that didn’t excuse me from learning the ins and outs of what an obituary must include.

In the digital age many readers are thirsty for information, as much of it as can be dished to them as possible and many are fooled by death hoaxes circulating on social media.

Writing about death in its many forms is an industry of its own and it is the elephant in the room that demands to be heard.

While it is unpleasant and no one particularly enjoys discussing it (okay some people do) death has amassed its notoriety for its ability to employ the masses writing obits, doing feature news reports, collecting hits on social media platforms and writing memoirs of famous and fictional people who pass.

Have you ever examined death in literature? Because writing is such a fine art the writing of a character’s passing can be particularly painful for the author and sometimes, just as hard on the reader. Why? Because even though these people are fictional (unless you’re writing a memoir) and often times play smaller roles in the novel, as authors and readers we invest our time and our minds to “getting to know them” and what they represent: their values, hobbies, likes, dislikes, hurts and triumphs, all that life has to offer for a character in a book, especially a good book, leaves us often wishing for more time to “know” the character that was created. Other times readers are glad the S.O.B (whomever it is) has finally kicked the bucket and that means a happily ever after ending they have so painstakingly been hoping for, doesn’t it?

The writing process that goes into killing off a character or revealing a character’s death is different for every author. Sometimes, ‘he died’ is all one needs to write to make the desired impact the author is searching for, other times it is more beneficial to draw out a character’s passing over an entire chapter through other characters’ dialogue, setting up the location to reflect something morose and let the circumstance of the person/character’s death make the impact on the reader.

Does life ever end happily ever after? Is there happiness in dying? Is there a reward in writing about dying? You bet there is. For the life of a writer it is all part of making a living.

 

 

 

Five Unwritten Rules in Writing You Haven’t Heard (from me)

 

  1. Writing query letters to editors and book to proposals to publishers is fun (okay I’ll be honest, it’s really not) but it doesn’t guarantee you will get a reply or a sale. (It also doesn’t mean you won’t). Listening to what editors suggest to you in their feedback just might help you get that contract.
  2. Writing articles on spec is the only excuse you’ll have to take yourself on a date night alone if you have kids. (Maybe even if you don’t but you just want to get away.) #movienight #girlsnight #coffeedate #manicure #facials #finedining #needIgoon
  3. Write a children’s books and you’ll have a break from reality. Write a non-fiction novel and you could live vicariously through those whom succeeded doing the same thing before you and went on to make the bestsellers lists.
  4. Blog for a day you may attract readers. Blog for life and you may gain followers. Blog because you like the writing process and you could make an income if you have both.
  5. Many of the great writers are known for their solid work ethic. How much of your free time are you dedicating to writing these days? Coming soon an interview with one of Ottawa’s classiest Influencers in the business and writing world.

Money for Nothing: Cheques For Free